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AUSTRALIA

9 MUST-DO EXPERIENCES AROUND VICTORIA.

Avatar   By Beth Allison - House of Travel Content Creative


With foodie hotspot Melbourne as its capital, the state of Victoria is just brimming with awesome and off-beat experiences. No matter what you’re looking for in a getaway, we’re convinced you’ll find it in this gorgeous state. Here are nine unmissable experiences you'll find on a Victoria getaway.

 

1. Cruise the famous Great Ocean Road.

Grab some snacks and cue up Spotify for what might be most staggeringly beautiful drive you’ll make. The Great Ocean Road is a magnificent touring route running from surf haven Torquay, past iconic 12 Apostles, to the historic fishing village of Port Fairy. Look out for the sparkling turquoise waters of Loch Ard Gorge and stretch your legs with a ramble in Port Campbell National Park.

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2. Step into the past in historic Bendigo. 

Bendigo’s grand buildings, theatres and galleries are a legacy of the nineteenth century gold rush that transformed the region. It’s a fantastic place for an afternoon of exploring: Experience the life of a miner by touring the underground tunnels at Central Deborah Gold Mine or visit an 1850s joss house, where Chinese mining immigrants once gathered. Then toast your discoveries with a smooth Pinot Noir or buttery Chardonnay at the region’s oldest vineyard, Balgownie Estate.

 

3. Soak up the benefits of the spa country’s mineral springs.

Steep yourself in the natural thermal mineral pools bubbling up all over Victoria. No matter where you head, you’re never far from one of these deliciously warm and restorative natural baths. Locals rave about the water’s therapeutic benefits, and we can tell you they’re a guaranteed stress-buster. For night owls, we recommend a bottle of bubbles and scenic stargazing from the hilltop mineral pool on Mornington Peninsula – a local gem!

 

4. Catch a ride aboard a paddlesteamer in historic Port of Echuca.

Step back in time when you board a historic paddlesteamer for a meander down the Murray river. The PS Emmylou offers relaxed lunch, tea or dinner cruises that showcase locally sourced food and wine. For a truly special experience, take an overnight ride onboard the recently refurbished PS Emmylou: With just nine cabins, this boutique steam-powered boat is able to moor alongside outstanding river wineries, drop by local food producers, pause to explore heritage sites and, with the help of the MV Kingfisher, send passengers down ancient Murray River Tributaries with an environmental specialist. In the evening, take in the stunning night sky from around a riverside campfire.

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5. Spot Little Penguins on a remote Phillip Island beach.

Waddle on the wild side at Phillip Island’s famous Penguin Parade, a magically remote beach just 90 minutes from Melbourne. At sunset, you can spot groups of the little guys returning home to the largest penguin colony in Australia. Playful and friendly fellas, they’ll often wander right up for a chat. Give the place a wander on your own or benefit from the knowledge of a ranger guide.

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6. Take a dawn hot air balloon ride.

Drift into the day with an early-morning hot air balloon ride over the dreamy hills, forests and vineyards of the Yarra Valley. Get breath-taking bird’s-eye views as you sail gently over silent watercolour landscapes. For an unforgettable ending, add a sparkling wine breakfast upon landing.

 

7. Indulge in the artisan foods of Heathcote. 

This is one place where gluttony is absolutely not a sin. With walking tours devoted to the local artisanal food producers and others devoted to necessities like dessert, you’ll want to pack an appetite. Follow a top local chef to some of the area’s most outstanding artisans as she collects ingredients for your evening meal. There’s a tasting crawl for every kind of foodie. And coffee lovers will be buzzing about not one but twolocal roasters. Take it from us and pack pants with elastic waists.

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8. Do a classic “dine and dance” evening onboard a steam train. 

Get date night back on track when you step into the romance of train travel onboard Puffing Billy. With incredible views of the Dandenong Ranges from the train’s velvet-draped windows and a decadent three-course meal accompanied by Yarra Valley wines, you’ve got all the building blocks for a fabulous evening. Or travel the picturesque and historic Bellarine Railway onboard The Q Train. A fine dining restaurant on rails, its chefs source only local, independent wines, beers and ciders to accompany their inventive plates.

 

9. Go for a tramp in Grampians National Park.

This vast national park is the perfect place to delve into Aboriginal culture: Indigenous culture has had a strong hold here for more than 40,000 years. It’s also a mecca for modern nature-lovers. With plenty of walking and cycling tracks, you can choose a short, gentle ramble or a challenging day hike. Keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos and emus as you pass pristine waterfalls, fragrant wildflowers and jaw-dropped panoramas. Foodies should visit during Grampians Grape Escape, one of Australia’s longest-running wine and food festivals.

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ABOUT BETH ALLISON

Beth Allison is an American import from New Jersey and House of Travel’s in-house sentence writer. When she’s not thumbing a thesaurus, she’s probably dreaming of her next meal. Beth is a herbivore, coffee addict, tramper, bookworm, theatre lover and cat lady. Her favourite places are Strandhill, Ireland, and New York City. If you find a real bagel shop in New Zealand, please let her know.

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